AIRMIC Conference 2018: Assessing the impact, opportunity and risk of AI

Cytora CEO discusses the opportunities for AI and new data technologies in the insurance industry at Airmic 2018.

As the digital revolution changes the way organisations do business, it also promises to significantly change business, risk and resilience models.

Richard Hartley at AIRMI 2018

Earlier this week, Cytora CEO and co-founder Richard Hartley joined a panel at Airmic 2018, a conference for insurance and risk professionals, held in Liverpool. The Revolution is Now! discussed the challenges businesses face in implementing artificial intelligence (AI) and new data technologies, and how they can build resilience and manage risks to succeed in the digital future.

Over the 75-minute session, the panelists delivered a wide-ranging discussion, covering the changing nature of technological risks, the business benefits of using AI and the need for incumbents to develop digital skill, ethical codes, and partnerships with technology specialists.

AI creates new risks, and offers the best way to assess them

The panel explored two interrelated themes around AI and new data technology:

  1. AI and new technology is changing the nature of the risks that businesses face. Businesses are increasing interrelated in networks, reliant on technology partners for operations, and vulnerable to unknown and unpredictable emerging threats (like cyber). The increasingly connected business world also affects those companies who interact with the wider ecosystem of risks, for example insurers.
  2. AI and new technology is enhancing processes across traditional business value chains. This includes customer acquisition, supply chain optimisation, and strategic decisions.

The insurance industry uniquely operates at the intersection of these two trends. From an insurance perspective, AI and new technology is both changing the nature of the risks that they insure, and enhancing the methods they use to assess and price.

The AI future needs digital skills, ethical codes and partnerships

The panel brought together leading risk professionals from across multiple sectors. The discussion was enthusiastically moderated by Spencer Kelly, Presenter of BBC’s technology program Click.

The panelists included:

  • Richard Hartley, Co-Founder and CEO, Cytora
  • Jamie Saunders, Visiting Professor at the University College London Department of Security and Crime Science
  • Yvette Connor, Chief Risk Officer, Focal Point Data Risk
  • Lord Tim Clement-Jones, Consultant, DLA Piper, and Chair of House of Lords Select Committee on AI
  • Gianvito Lanzolla, Professor of Strategy, Cass Business School, City University London

The panel produced a few further key thoughts relevant to the future of AI across all industries, not just insurance.

  • Spencer Kelly introduced the session by highlighting the growing adoption of big data technologies, and the increasing recognition at board level of the need to transform into digital businesses. With lower barriers to entry for digital businesses, even traditional businesses (such as insurance) will find their new competitors are technology companies.
  • Gianvito Lanzolla explained that it is difficult, yet possible to keep up with change. Things are moving fast, but information has never been so available. Businesses that are aware, adaptable, and actively keep learning will be able to do well.
  • Lord Clement-Jones (who chaired the Lords’ Select Committee, which produced the April 2018 report into AI in the UK) emphasised the need to seek to understand, and integrate AI with businesses. This will ultimately be done best by those who recruit staff with diverse problem-solving backgrounds, train them well, and develop partnerships with specialist technologists.
  • All the panelists agreed on the importance of devising and implementing ethical approaches to AI, both in the UK and worldwide.